Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Senator Pearse Doherty speaks on An Gaeilge

21 February, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD


The Irish language is a central component of our culture which belongs to all of us who live on this island irrespective of creed or political outlook. It enriches all our lives. This is why Sinn Féin believes strongly in the need to protect and promote the Irish language.

Recent attacks on the language both by unionist politicians and by the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government in the 26 counties are intolerable and an outrage.

Despite signing up to the agreement at St Andrews the DUP, under both its Culture ministers Edwin Poots and the present incumbent Gregory Campbell have refused to put legislation before the North's Executive that would recognise the rights of Irish speakers in law.

The last census revealed that upwards of 75,000 people across the North speak, read and write Irish while at least a further 167,000 have some knowledge of the language. These people have rights too. I would like to send a message to the DUP from this Ard Fhéis. The Irish language threatens no one. It is not compulsory and will not be forced on anyone. Unionism should not feel threatened by Irish language rights.

Meanwhile in the 26 counties the Irish language and Early Immersion Education continue to be undermined by Fianna Fáil and the greens.

The Department of Education, under the watchful eye of Batt O'Keeffe, seems intent on putting the final nail in the coffin of Tumoideachas. It is deeply sad for both the language and its historical importance that Irish language campaigners have been left with no option but to legally challenge the government on its decision to undermine the language.

Their case is due before the court over the coming weeks.

It is nothing short of a scandal that tax-payers money is now to be squandered on defending this blatant attack on the Irish language by the state itself.

And while they are launching attacks on irish language education this government have sat on their hands and are witnessing the decline of gaeltacht areas.

Cuireadh tuarascáil ar Staidéar Teangeolaíoch ar úsáid na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht faoi bhráid an rialtais go mall i 2007 agus aontaíodh go gcuirfear coiste comhaireachta ar
bun chun machnamh a dhéanamh ar na moltaí agus iad a chur i gcrích agus chun plean gníomhaíochta comhtháite a aontú chun todhchaí na Gaeilge mar phríomhtheanga na Gaeltachta a chinntiú.

Ach níor bhailigh an Taoiseach, atá ina chathaoirleach ar Choiste an Oireachtais, atá freagrach as moltaí na Tuarascála seo cruinniú an choiste le hocht mí anuas in ainneoin thuar na tuarascála go bhfaighidh an Ghaeilge labhartha sa cheantar Gaeltachta is láidre bás taobh istigh de 15 bliana mura bhféadfaí na treochtaí teangeolaíocha, a chúlú

There is no doubt that more needs to be done by those with political responsibilities for these issues. But the future of the language requires all of us to do our bit and we in Sinn Féin must build on the work that we have done to date and further promote the use of the language within our own party.

I am calling on all comrades to support this motion and send a message loud and clear to opponents of the Irish language. Attacks on Irish will not be tolerated. Withdraw Circular 0044/07, Acht na Gaeilge Anois! And implement recommendations within the Staidéar Teangeolaíoch.

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